Are you unsure how to write short stories for children? If so this article outlines the most important parts when writing short stories, in fact, stories in general share the same rule regardless of the age group.
Every person during his/her childhood has heard a lot of stories and fairy tales. Most of them are fictional barring a few that are based on actual events. It is not at all difficult to write short stories, all that you need is a good command over the language and a bit of creativity. Apart from these there are certain things that need to be taken care of like the beginning of the story, the ending etc.
If you want to try writing short stories for small children then here are few tips that will make your story the best.
An appealing and an interesting beginning will arouse the curiosity of the reader which will keep them glued to the story till the end. But before you start writing the first paragraph, you must decide on several story elements. Consider choosing the following before you write the first paragraph:
1. Setting (This is where the story takes place.)
2. Time (Commonly most short stories cover a day or up to a week. If your short story covers a month, you will probably need a shorter time period.)
3. Major conflict (that is the main problem that the characters will solve.)
4. Characters (it is advisable to have 2-4 characters in your story. The plot tends to get complicated if you have more than 4 characters)
5. Ending (There should be a resolution and all of the loose ends should be tied up.)
Once you have decided on the basic story elements, the next thing is to decide on the major element of the story i.e. the target audience. In the case of short stories it is the children whom we target.
After choosing the major story element you can start writing your story. If there are any conversations between the characters which are referred to as dialogues then just keep in mind that each time a different character talks, you need to indent and start a new paragraph. To come up with better dialogues it is suggested to put yourself in the shoes of the characters you are creating as this will help you come up with realistic dialogues.
Read the stories of other writers to get an idea of how to go about writing short stories. Consider reading some folklore stories, which are available on the internet.
Although you read stories of other authors it is really important to have your own style of writing. The story you write should be different from the ones you have read, in other words the story should be unique. This way you can attract more child readers and at the same time make a good name as a popular author in a short span of time.
© Scott Thomas
Many new writers get themselves into a pickle with character creation. They seem to regard it as some mysterious black art that might be beyond them.
Either that or they fall in love with the process of creating three dimensional characters - to the detriment of their writing time.
There are three ways to approach character creation, all equally valid, as long as you don't obsess over them - or get so bogged down in the processes you forget the bigger picture.
Characters are a means to an end. The story is what matters. Yes, you want characters that your reader will love or at least identify with - but without a story, a character is just an idea, an empty vessel that can do nothing outside of context.
No amount of description of a character - whether they're 'deep' or 'rounded' or 'sympathetic' - means anything much until you can see them in action, as it were.
You start with a simple outline of an imaginary person, with certain characteristics:
1. Gender /Age
2. Profession / Calling
3. Location / Environment
4. Agenda (what they truly want)
5. Finally, a name.
That's it. This can be a good starting place for any story. You don't have to go into too much more detail, unless you really want to, which I know many writers do. Perhaps because they just get off on it!
But remember that the more you flesh out a character before you start writing, the fewer plot turns you will have access to. This is because stories are essentially character driven. Therefore, if you have a strong three dimensional character set in stone, there are only so many convincing plot options you can apply to your character's personality.
In effect, it's harder to make a overly developed character 'fit' into your plot if they always react in a specific pre-determined way - that is, determined by you - too early on in the writing process.
Many writers start with a sketchy idea of a hero then brainstorm the possible plot permutations a story might take depending on the personality of the character. This is good.
You might find after the brainstorming process the character, her motivations, foibles and agenda can be enhanced to better reflect - that is, make more believable - the twists and turns of the story.
This is a common process in screenwriting. Once you have the entire story down, you go back and tweak the character to make them entirely consistent in their actions, reactions and general 'raison d'etre.'
It's an important process in movie making because an expensive actor will be the first one to say, "I'm sorry, I wouldn't do that." Not something the average Hollywood director wants to have to deal with when shooting a film costing $1000 a second!
But character consistency is just as important in your novels and short stories because you never want you reader to feel that your hero does something 'out of character' and is therefore unbelievable.
You start with nothing much decided.
You start writing and let the character and his / her personality, agendas and even his/her name and appearance come to you over time.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this approach - many writers do it, including the likes of Stephen King - so it can't be at all bad.
The main problem with this approach is that it can lead to a lot of editing and reworking of a story - especially a novel - after you've written it. And if you've ever had to 'fix' a hero in a novel, you'll know that rewriting this kind of character can take way longer than you spent on writing the novel in the first place!
So you need to be careful you don't make your writing life too hard!
Clearly, a sensible combination of the above approaches is what is required, depending on the project and the needs of a particular story.
I know that some writing instructors like to perpetuate the myth that character creation is complicated and laborious. They might suggest pages of notes or an 'interview' with your hero that takes days to complete.
I've seen writers show me ridiculously complex bubble graphs of inter-relating characteristics and infinite permutations of possibilities based on the (largely false) premise that the 'deeper' and more 'human' the fictional personality, the more credible he/she becomes.
The fact is, your fictional characters will never be 'real' in the sense of 'human'. That's not their purpose.
Real people are such a mess of conflicting emotions, agendas and often diametrically opposed points of view that they cannot possibly make good models for fictional characters.
Overdevelopment of fictional characters can often become a largely self indulgent exercise that serves little beneficial purpose. Better to focus on the needs of your readers - who prefer clearly definable heroes and supporting characters that propel the plot rather than bog it down with unnecessary - and often confusing - detail.
And keep it simple.
Develop where necessary - to uncover the 'truth' about a character for instance.
But don't overcomplicate things, my friend. Not just for the sake of it, anyway.
You need your precious writing time to be productive!
© Rob Parnell
If you're just breaking into the writing business, you may be wondering if you should start by offering your work to non-paying markets. Do new writers need to serve some sort of "apprenticeship" in such markets before moving on to those that pay? Are non-paying markets the only way for a new writer to break in? Sadly, some writers don't ask this question at all, assuming (for various reasons) that the answer must be "yes." Too many talented writers end up wasting considerable time writing for free, unable (or refusing) to believe that they could be paid for their material.
At the heart of this issue are two misperceptions. The first is the assumption that one must somehow pay one's dues, "crawl before one can walk," in the writing business -- and that this involves working for no money. The second is the phrasing of the question itself. Instead of asking "Should I write for non-paying markets?" many writers should be asking "When should I write for non-paying markets?"
The Apprenticeship Myth
Many writers believe that one's career must begin with non-paying markets. Many articles extol the value of such markets for building clips, enabling one (theoretically) to move on to paying publications. Writers often assume that without a history of publication, no paying market will consider their work -- and thus, that they have no real choice.
It isn't true. My own experience offers a good example: In the beginning of my career, I wrote exactly three "unpaid" articles. The first (my first-ever publication) was for a monthly community paper. The second and third were for a weekly newspaper -- and these were based on the editor's promise that he would pay me once he had a freelance budget. By my fourth article, he did, and I was earning a whopping $15 per feature!
Did those unpaid articles help me break into better markets? No. My first magazine sale was to Omni -- and was due to a chance meeting between my boyfriend (now hubby) and the editor at a conference. My second was to Quilt, and was due to a query that described my enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, crazy quilts. (My career has been a bit of a patchwork ever since...)
Omni, alas, is dead, but specialty magazines like Quilt abound, and are more than ready to welcome new, unpublished writers. All you need are a good idea, the ability to turn that idea into a well-written article, and the confidence to send that article to an editor. If you can do all of the above, many editors truly do not care whether you've been published before or not.
In short, if you have a choice between offering your material to a paying or a non=paying market, there is no logical reason to choose the latter. The non=paying market will always be there if you fail to sell the piece -- but it need not be your first choice, or even your second or third. If your goal is to become a paid professional, it's far better to exhaust all possibilities of payment before turning to markets that don't pay (rather than the other way around). After all, you only have to "break in" once to be considered a paid author!
When Should You Write for Free?
Does this mean you should never write for free? Not at all! There are many excellent reasons to do so; it's just that "being new" isn't necessarily one of them. Here are some better reasons:
For fun. Sometimes you may want to write something for the sheer enjoyment of it -- whether it's likely to find a paying market or not. (After all, someone must be writing all those variations on "how to bathe your cat" that circulate on the Internet!) One of my earliest "sales" was an "outsider's" view of dog shows, which was published in a breed-club newsletter; later, I actually managed to sell it to a major dog magazine. (I doubt, however, that I'll ever find a paying home for "I Was a Teenage Were-Elkhound"...)
To support a cause. Instead of contributing money to organizations or issues you believe in, you may choose to donate your writing skills instead. Your "payment" is often simply the knowledge that you are increasing awareness of an important issue. If you already have a "name," lending it to your chosen cause can be an important contribution in itself.
To help a favorite organization. You may enjoy contributing an occasional piece to your company, community, or church newsletter. Be careful, however: Once such organizations realize that you can write, you may be flooded with requests for more freebies. Before you say "yes" the first time, be sure you will feel comfortable saying "no" later.
To enhance your career. Many unpaid markets can be career-builders -- including your own website. Writing FAQs for your own site (or others), contributing articles to professional newsletters, or writing for professional journals can be good ways to build your reputation. They may also help you develop contacts that can lead to more lucrative work later.
To help and inform others. At a certain point in their careers, many writers (and others) feel an urge to "give back" some of what they have learned over time. You may decide to write about "what you know" as a way to mentor others in your field, or perhaps as a way to repay the mentoring you yourself received at one time. Sharing information may not make you rich, but it can be exhilarating.
When You Shouldn't...
Just as there are good reasons to write for free, there are also bad ones. Here are some that commonly plague new writers:
"I'll do anything to see my name in print." Seeing your byline is a thrilling experience -- but don't assume that the only way to get it is to give your work away. If you have a well-written story or article, why not send it to a paying market first? If it's accepted, you'll experience a double thrill: That of seeing your name in print, and of seeing it on a paycheck.
"I want to find out if I'm good enough to be published." Non-paying markets are not a good place to test your abilities. Many such markets are stuck with whatever they can get (i.e., whatever unpaid writers will give them), which means that they often don't have the luxury of "rejecting" mediocre writing. Getting published in such a market, therefore, is no true test of your marketability. A better test is to submit to paying markets; if your work is accepted, you have your answer, and if it is rejected, you can explore ways to improve your material. (Keep in mind that a single rejection is no indication of quality; some articles never sell, no matter how good they are. Test the market with more than one article, and test more than one market with the same article, if you're rejected by the first.)
"I want to polish my skills before submitting to 'real' markets." To be blunt, if you don't think your material is worth publishing, why submit it to anyone? Non-paying markets don't appreciate being dumping grounds for mediocre material. If you want to polish your work, do so through a class or critique group. Otherwise, send out your work -- and use the feedback you receive to identify areas where you may need improvement. "Polishing" is a lifelong task; since it's never finished, you might as well start selling at the same time!
"So-and-so gave me a start, and I don't want to let him/her down." Loyalty is a wonderful thing, and it can be difficult to abandon an editor or publication who accepted your work when no one else would. It's also hard to say no to someone who has learned to count on you. However, recipients of such loyalty can sometimes misuse it: Editors of non-paying publications would often prefer to hold on to a writer "in the hand" (you) than seek out new sources. Don't let such a relationship interfere with your ability to move on to new markets.
"I'll write for non-paying markets until I'm good enough for 'real' markets." The trick word in this sentence is "I." The issue here is often not whether your writing is good enough, but whether you feel that you are good enough. I've known too many writers who produced excellent material -- but felt that they weren't "ready" to send that material to paying markets. This often involves issues of self-esteem, fear of rejection, fear of failure, or even fear of success. Most often, writers who make this excuse doubt themselves or even their "right" to call themselves "writers." But that's another column...
Writing for free is simply an option, never a necessity. The bottom line is that if your writing isn't good (and you know it), your energies are best spent seeking ways to improve it. If your writing is good, and you believe in it, don't sell yourself short by failing to sell yourself at all!
Find Out More...
>Ways to Profit from Writing for Free - Audrey Faye Henderson
Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen
Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer's Digest, and Byline. An award-winning writer, Allen is the author of numerous books, including Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts VictorianVoices.net, a growing archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss Support Page, a resource for grieving pet owners. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and the obligatory writer's cat. She can be contacted at editors "at" writing-world.com.
A writer friend recently said to me, "When I read, I find I'm influenced by other authors. Depending on who I'm reading, my writing style is either playful, deep sounding or whatever. How can I stop writing like other writers and find my own voice?"(She also added that I might want to write an article based on my response - hence what you're reading right now!)
Before we get on to practical tips, we should cover some basic preconceptions about voice.
First of all, your voice should never be some affectation you acquire or work on. I think you know what I mean. When we're at school or in the office, we're told there's a certain way to say things - a style we must adopt to conform to the medium.
Many novice writers think the same applies to fiction - that there is perhaps some predetermined mental attitude and/or demeanour one should adopt - usually a 'superior, more learned' version of ourselves - to sound more authoritative when telling stories.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
You should always write in the style that is most natural to you. It may well be different from your speaking voice but should always reflect the way your mind works.
Secondly, your voice doesn't have to be 'original'. You can waste years of your time wondering what 'originality' is and trying to define and acquire it.
When critics, publishers and agents say they want 'originality', I believe they have no idea what they mean. They merely confuse writers by demanding something so nebulous and indefinable. I think what they should really be asking for is 'honesty'.
The simple truth is you already possess all the originality you need. You are already unique. No-one else thinks and writes like you do - trying to undo your own originality by constantly striving to be anything less than yourself is counter productive. Trust yourself.
Trusting yourself is probably the hardest trick you'll have to learn as a writer - but it is absolutely essential to your growth. Because it's only when you trust your ability to say what you mean with honesty and integrity, that your voice will start to come through.
The real test of a good authorial voice is consistency - it is as strong and recognizable at the beginning of a story as it is at the end.
So how do you achieve this consistency? How do 'get' your voice?
It's a process, of course - and here are some practical tips to strengthen and consolidate your own:
Consciously practice different styles and categorize them. Write using different voices - some that are deliberately difficult to sustain. This will attune your mind to noting differences in style. Try writing highbrow essays and then lowbrow articles, egocentric columns, little plays, short dispassionate biographies - anything that stretches you. These pieces don't have to be publishable - they are designed to help you 'play' with the writing medium.
Try to write without thinking for short bursts. If this sounds too hard, try writing for ten minutes just after you've woken in the morning - before you can think straight, just write anything.
Later, try looking up a word in the dictionary at random and write for ten minutes without stopping, using the word as inspiration. Force yourself to write, whether you're inspired or not - this is a great technique for getting in touch with your subconscious voice (i.e. your true voice.)
During writing spells, especially first drafts, don't read anything - no books, newspapers, magazines, cereal packets, nothing. Starve yourself of influences so that you can concentrate on just your voice and, not only the things you want to say but, how you want to say them.
When you've written sections you're convinced are beginning to reflect your most natural and compelling voice, read them into a tape recorder and play them back. The very process will help because you'll probably find your best passages easiest to read. If not, delete the clumsy words, the extra adverbs, the overlong sentences and try again.
Try writing two different versions of pieces - like short stories. Write one with all the literary might you can summon and write another with just a little casual indifference. Post out both to magazine publishers or read them to your friends to see what they think.
Consciously remind yourself everyday that you are a writer, that you are thinking a writer's thoughts and your are determined that your writing will truly and accurately reflect those thoughts. Do not hide behind fear of honesty or the thought that exposing your inner psyche is in any way bad. It's not.
The real you is what your readers want, respect and deserve.
© Rob Parnell